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Roasted chickpeas were a favorite snack of my Italian grandmother who first introduced me to the savory protein-rich treat many years ago. To make Italian-style roasted chickpeas, simply toss cooked chickpeas with a little olive oil and roast them on a baking pan in a single layer for about 30 minutes, then season lightly with salt. These days you can find numerous spin-offs of classic roasted chickpeas that cloak the chickpeas with various spice blends and sauces from curry to tamari. I especially love these Smoky Chickpeas, a recipe I developed by tossing the chickpeas in a seasoning mixture that I generally use to make vegan bacon. Once roasted, the chickpeas take on a lovely mahogany color and a deep smoky flavor that, like their more scantily-clad Italian counterpart, make a terrific snack on their own. They can also be used to add interest to soups or cooked grains or other recipes where a smoky flavor is welcome. My favorite way to serve them is in this Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad with Mango and Avocado.

Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad [Vegan]

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Ingredients You Need for Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad [Vegan]

For the Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup chopped ripe mango
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Water, as needed
  • Salt and pepper

For the Salad:

  • 2 bunches watercress, well washed and spun dry, tough stems removed
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado

For the Smoky Chickpeas:

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or one 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

How to Prepare Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad [Vegan]

To Make the Dressing:
  1. Combine the chopped mango, lime juice, agave, mustard (or sriracha), and liquid smoke in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth, adding 1 to 3 tablespoons of water as needed to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper and blend again, then taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Set aside.

To Make the Salad:

  1. Place the watercress in a large salad bowl or mound onto individual plates.
  2. Top with the chickpeas.
  3. Peel, pit, and dice the mango and avocado, or use a small melon baller to scoop them into balls, then add them to the watercress and chickpeas.
  4. Drizzle the dressing onto the salad or serve the dressing on the side.

To Make the Smoky Chickpeas:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Line a shallow baking dish with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine and coat the chickpeas.
  4. Transfer the chickpeas to the prepared baking dish and spread them in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once about halfway through.
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